Memorial Day

I hope everyone is throughly enjoying their Memorial Day weekend.  While you are out there burning your burgers make sure you take a minute or two and remember why we celebrate this holiday.  Just give thanks to the heroes that gave all they could give and are now guarding the gates of heaven.  Y’all are not forgotten and your nation thanks you and owes you more than it can ever repay.

Took the wife shooting

Well my wife finally decided it was time for her to learn how to shoot some of the guns I own.  She has always been very accepting of my love for guns and all things tactical but was just never interested.

Well last week I was out of town for some work stuff and she heard some noises in the backyard and realized that we had all these guns in the house and she really didn’t know how to use them.  I actually got a phone call from her letting me know she had already gotten a sitter for our daughter and we needed to go to the range when she got back.

I was really surprised because about 4 years ago she had a really bad experience shooting a shotgun.  She was trying to shot an old single shot shotgun of mine and as she was pulling the hammer back her thumb slipped off and the gun fired when she wasn’t ready and with me and my father slightly ahead of her but still behind the muzzle.  Needless to say it scared the bejezus out of all of us.  Luckily we knew to stay behind the muzzle so we really weren’t in any danger but still scary.  After that I didn’t think she would ever touch a gun again.

The night before we took some time to go over the four basic safety rules and how the gun functioned.  She seemed good to go so we loaded up my Glock 19 and a couple of boxes of ammo for her.  I also took my Saiga so I would have something to play with if she started enjoying her self.

When we got to the range I set some Pepsi cans up at around 7 yards for her to shoot at.  I loaded a single round in the magazine and then chambered that one round for her and laid the Glock on the range table with the muzzle down range so all she had to do was pick it up, align the sights, and squeeze the trigger.  She was really apprehensive at first and picked it up like it was going to bite her.  She finally got a little more comfortable and took aim at one of the cans and started to pull the trigger when a guy a few lanes down let out a few rapid fire shots out of his AK and spooked her.  She actually had to put the gun down and take a few breaths.

At this point I wasn’t very hopeful for how things would turn out but just reassured her and got her to try again.  She finally squeezed off that first round and then turned around and commented that it barely kicked at all.  She was expecting the gun to either hurt her wrists or jump out of her hands.  As soon as I saw the smile on her face I knew she was having some fun.  I loaded a full magazine for her and chambered the first round for her making sure to show her again how to do it.  She slowly fired off that magazine and asked to shoot some more.

At this point I just handed her a loaded magazine and told her if she wanted shoot some more she had to load the gun herself.  She was a little nervous but got the magazine into the gun and then racked the slide and commented that it was easier than she expected.  After she finished that magazine I handed her an empty magazine and a box of rounds and showed her how to load the magazine.

Once she was able to do everything herself I started shooting the Saiga in the lane next to her.  After a couple of minutes I heard her do a rapid fire magazine dump and I looked over at her only to have her tell me she wanted to see how fast she could shoot it.  At this point I knew she was hooked.

She continued to shoot until finally she had to go tinkle and didn’t want to do it behind a bush.  If nature had not called I’m sure she would have shot all the 9mm ammo I brought out with us.  On the ride home she actually started asking about carrying a pistol and maybe getting her own Glock.  She really liked the way the Glock 19 fit her hand but she knows I carry it daily hence her wanting her own.   She also commented on how relaxed she felt.  I told her that is one of my favorite things about going to the range.  You concentrate so much on what you are doing that you don’t think about anything else.

Overall I think the trip was a huge success.  Next trip will be her trying out one of the shotguns, either the 870 of the Saiga.  She also asked if she could shoot my 1911 next time.  I’ll be sure to let y’all know how it goes.  Any of y’all have any tips for either getting your significant other to the range or how to get them more comfortable around guns?

Keep up the good fight

-Rob

My Range Bag

Everyone has sometime of range bag.  Some people have dedicated purpose made range bags and on the other end of the spectrum some people carry their stuff to the range in a plastic grocery bag.

What I use to carry my range supplies is a dirty little secret that I need to confess.  I use a cheap Chinese knock off of the SOTech Go Bag.  Occasionally I will buy a knock off of a product to see how I like the design before I drop the coin on the real thing just find out it doesn’t work for me.  Let me just say I love this bag and will be ordering the real thing shortly.

The bag is slightly unusual, it is really just a tall cylinder with three pockets on the front and a single wide strap.  It also has a grab handle on both the top and bottom.  The back panel, the part the goes against your body when you have it slung, has two tethered zippers that allows the panel to fully open and give you full access to the interior of the bag.

On the outside of the bag I added a panel of sage green Velcro on each side so I could add some patches just for fun.  Right now it is wearing an ITS Tactical patch on one side and a Mil-Spec Monkey “Immediate Action” patch on the other side.  I also wrapped some sage green 550 cord around the top handle to give it a more comfortable handle and make it look “cooler” (can’t forget the CDI factor).  I also have a pair of Camelback Vent-back gloves attached to one side of the bag with a grimloc through the PALS webbing, these are my shooting gloves and I love them.

Also on the outside I have attached a 5.11/VTAC water bottle holder to some of the PALS webbing.  I keep an ATS low profile medical insert stocked with gunshot wound supplies in the water bottle holder (look for a review of the medical insert soon) with the red handle hanging out to help identify it as a medical pouch.  I like have the medical pouch on the outside of the bag so that I never forget to bring it and it is easy to find.  I’d hate to be sitting there digging through my bag looking for medical supplies after an accident at the range.

The main pouch is where I stuff my magazines and my ammunition.  If the bag is not full it will collapse on itself and not hold its shape, knowing this I start by stacking boxes of ammunition on the bottom to make a stable base.  I usually have several boxes of 12 gauge shot shells on the bottom followed by boxes of 9mm and .45 ACP with some smaller boxes of .22LR filling in the spaces and then my magazines stacked on top.

On to the three smaller pouches on the outside.  Starting with the top pocket, it carries a Surefire G2 with an aftermarket LED lamp upgrade (I still can’t see in the dark) and a multi-tool of some type (I rotate them out sometime).  In the middle pocket I have a cotton bandana (it’s amazing how often this comes in handy) and I also stick my camera in a small Pelican case in that pocket, when I remember to grab it.  If you ever see a post with a crappy picture that probably means I forgot my camera and I’m relying on my iphone to take pictures with.  Finally in the bottom pocket I carry a small bottle of lubricant and a medium sized mesh bag to put my spent brass in.  I don’t reload yet but I have started saving my brass because I intend to start sometime in the future.

One of my other favorite things about this bag is that it is great for shooting off of.  I’m really working on improving my marksmanship with my 10/22 so I can make sure my fundamentals rock before I start looking for a full size bolt gun for some longer range precision shooting

So what do y’all use to carry all of your supplies to the range?  Do you have something special you take to the range with you?  Got any questions about why I carry something or don’t carry something else?  Post a reply letting me know and if you want shoot me an email at tacticaltexan@gmail.com and I’ll add it to this post, let’s see those range bags!

Keep up the good fight
-Rob

Saga of the Saiga

Well I finally managed to scrounge up all the parts and all the tools I would need to convert my Saiga 12 back to its intended design. To make the gun 922R compliant for importation it was brought over in a “sporterized” form with no pistol grip and a cheap hunting style stock. To make the trigger workable with a rifle style stock and no pistol grip the trigger had to be relocated about an inch and a half back basically to where the pistol grip should be.

To start off I gathered up the tools I would need for this conversion:
-small vice
-drill
-Dremel
-small and large flathead screwdrivers
-small needle nose pliers
-hammer
-various size punches

The parts I used were:
-KVAR Nato length stock
-Tromix DIY Trigger guard
-Tapco G2 trigger group modified by Tromix

Friday night both my wife and daughter weren’t feeling very well so they both went to bed early so I headed to the garage to play gunsmith. I started by verifying that the gun was unloaded and visually and physically checked to make sure the chamber was clear.

Next I field stripped the gun by removing the top cover, taking out the recoil spring, and then removing the bolt and bolt carrier. With the gun field stripped I could access all three of the screws holding the stock on. Using a large flathead screwdriver I removed the three screws holding the stock on and then proceeded to beat on the stock until it worked its way free of the rear of the receiver.

Now the real fun, taking out the guts. I used a small flathead screwdriver to push down on the axis pin retaining spring which allowed me to drift out the axis pins which hold in the hammer and the linkage between the trigger and the hammer. Once both pins were out the linkage and the hammer along with the hammer spring could be lifted out of the receiver. Once those were out I lifted the original bolt hold open also.

The next thing that needed to be removed was the trigger assembly that was held in by two rivets. I initially tried to drill the head off of the rivets but ended up finding it easier to just use the Dremel to grind the head of them off. Once I had the head off I used a punch and a hammer to knock the rest of the rivets out allowing the trigger assembly to be taken out as well.

Once all of the insides were on the outside it was time to turn my attention to the original trigger guard. If the trigger had to be moved forward then the trigger guard would need to follow. The trigger guard was held on by three more rivets. Since I found that the using the Dremel to grind the head of the rivets off worked better I just started with that technique this time and it served me fairly well. Once I had all three rivet heads ground off I once again grabbed the punch and hammer and started knocking out what remained of the rivets. Two came out with little trouble but one did not want to come out. I grinded on it some more to no avail, I eventually had to drill it out and I think I actually made the hole a little bigger in the process but the river finally came out.

With the old trigger guard removed I prepared to install the new trigger guard from Tromix. I purchased the Tromix Do-It-Yourself Trigger guard because it just seemed a lot simpler than trying to modify the receiver even more than I already was. The Tromix trigger guard allows you to mount a pistol grip to the actual trigger guard instead of having to cut a pistol grip hole in your receiver. It also has a nice angular look to it which adds some CDI points. The trigger guard bolted in through the existing rivet holes and the hole that was for the old trigger. This is only designed to work with the Tapco SAW grip so I had limited options for what pistol grip to use but I hear that more options might be on the way. I was slightly worried about the stability and ruggedness of mounting the pistol grip to the trigger guard like this but now that I have it installed and have had a chance to shoot it I have no doubts that it will hold up just fine.

With the pistol grip and ne trigger guard attached it was time to turn my attention back to the inside of the receiver. I was going to use a Tapco G2 trigger assembly that had been modified by Tromix for use in the Saiga 12. This involves removing some material from the side of the hammer to clear the original bolt hold open (if you keep it) and grinding part of the hammer to make it clear the bolt so the gun will cycle. I dropped the trigger assembly in and then set the original bolt hold open into place so that the axis pin that holds the trigger in place would also hold the bolt hold open spring in place. Not everyone reinstalls the bolt hold open but I am a fan of locking my bolt back when at the range and not shooting that particular gun to help show it is clear, also it is much easier to load a full magazine into the gun when the bolt is to the rear.

Once the rear axis pin had been installed and was holding the trigger assembly and the bolt hold open spring I moved on to the hammer and hammer spring. Things can get really tricky with the spring so I took some good advice and put tension on the spring and wrapped it in tape to hold it in place while I installed it into the receiver. After the hammer was in place I reinstalled the front axis pin which holds the hammer and bolt hold open in place. Once I was sure it was setup correctly I cut the tape around the hammer spring allowing the two legs of the spring to snap into place. Finally to ensure that the axis pins will remain in place I installed a shepards crook spring which is designed to hold both axis pins in.

The shepards crook spring was fairly easy to install. I started by inserting it into the receiver from the rear and then making the long part of the spring go over the first axis pin and then under the second axis pin. Using a small flathead screwdriver to move the spring around and push it over this or under that made the process much easier. Once I had it lined up correctly I just used a punch to push it the rest of the way until it snapped into position.

At this point the new fire control group was completely installed. All I did was a quick couple of function checks to make sure the trigger would release the hammer and that the hammer would reset. Once I was sure that everything was working they way it was supposed to I put the bolt, recoil spring, and top cover back on.

The last part I needed to install was the KVAR Nato length stock I had picked up. This is a much more traditional AK style stock than the sporter stock that the Saiga came with. It was a direct bolt in replacement, the only modification I had to do was drill the actual holes for the screws into the stock itself, it utilizes the old holes in the receiver. The stock fit pretty snug into the receiver and with the screws added it is rock solid.

Finally it was done, I had converted my Saiga back to the way it should be. I was slightly concerned because when you switch the old hammer to the new hammer that is in the Tapco G2 fire control group it rides slightly higher which makes it drag against the bolt a little more making the gun not cycle quit as well. It definitely wasn’t as smooth as before but I wasn’t sure if it would affect the actual cycling of the gun when being fired. To help smooth things out, or maybe just make myself feel better, I oiled up the fire control group and the bolt and then worked the bolt back and forth a few dozen times to help the parts wear in.

The next day I swung by my local ammo supply point (Sportsman’s Warehouse) and picked up some slugs, some buckshot, and some full power birdshot loads. I also took along some of the real cheap Federal bulk pack 7 1/2 shot from Wal-Mart. I started with the slugs to help break the gun back in and it ran great, no issues at all. After that I switched to the buckshot and then the full power bird loads and it still ran with no issues. Once I switched to the Federal bulk pack I had a few stovepipe malfunctions until I adjusted the gas system to the higher setting which is normally needed for bird shot. Once the gas system was properly adjusted I had no further issues with the bulk pack cycling.

Overall I am exceptionally pleased with my conversion. I am extra excited that it is cycling the bulk pack bird loads that I can get 100 of for a little over 20 bucks, makes going to the range more enjoyable when I can actually afford to shoot as much as I want. I was fairly nervous going into it but I had a blast doing the work and now have a much better understanding of how my gun works and how AK’s work in general. I got a little carried away with the work and my cigar and forgot to take step by step pictures like I meant to. If someone is considering doing a conversion likes this and would like some specific pictures or a better explanation of how I did something just reply down below and I’ll see what I can do.

Keep up the good fight

-Rob

Painting magazines

You might have noticed from the picture in the review of my AR that
my magazines are painted and numbered for easy identification.  Most people
understand the benefits of marking your magazines such as easier
identification at the range, identifying which magazines seems to be giving
you issues such as double feeds, and most importantly the CDI factor.

I’ll quickly run you through how I went about painting mine to give them a
different look but still keep them easily identifiable.  I didn’t come up
with this idea I originally saw it in a thread on M4Carbine of ARFcom
and thought it was an interesting idea that I should give a try.

First I gathered up some of my Magpul Pmags and disassembled them.
If you have never handled a Pmag before one of the advantages is that they
are extremely easy to take apart.  All you have to do is push a button on
the bottom of the base plate and slide the base plate off of the body of the
magazine and then remove the spring.  I then used some warm soapy water to
clean the magazines and then set them outside to dry.

After this I laid out a large piece of cardboard paper to do the painting on so I didn’t end up with grey grass.  I arrange the magazines on the cardboard and ensured they had enough room between them so I wouldn’t be worried about any overspray from the other magazines.  I laid the stencils on top of the magazine bodies at a slight angle for aesthetic reasons and held the stencil in place with a stick so it wouldn’t move around while I was spraying them.  I could have taped them down but the stick was just quicker and easier and ended up working just as well.

While the first side dried I went inside and got a drink, checked my email and ate a sandwich.  Once the sandwich was done it was time to see if the paint was dry enough to do the other side.  They were dry to the touch so I went ahead and flipped them over and repeated the process making sure to match the numbers up correctly.  I didn’t want a magazine saying 3 on one side and 5 on the other.

Another trip inside to let them dry in the sun and then all that was left was to reassemble them.  They look pretty good and the numbering is functional so I can track the magazines and not mix them up with other peoples.  If I had it to do over again I would use a darker grey but the shade I found was all they had at the store and I wanted to go ahead and give this a try.  I might end up redoing them in the future but who knows.

Keep up the good fight
-Rob

Going under the knife (err.. Make that dremel)

Well it’s time. Time for me to attack my dear Saiga with drill and dremel to convert it back to the way it was designed. Goodbye goofy hunting stock, hello KVAR NATO length AK stock. Goodbye trigger in the wrong location with weird linkage, hello normal AK trigger. Goodbye imaginary pistol grip, and hello SAW grip.

I think I have all the tools and parts I need. I have reads copious amounts of information and watched numerous YouTube videos on this process. I know how to do this but yet I still feel like my Saiga is about to get brain surgery from a palsy victim with a pipewrench.

I’ll be doing the procedure tonight if time allows. I’ll be sure to snap some pics and take some notes to let y’all know how it goes. If I get it done tonight I’ll take it to the range Saturday and have a report up layer that night

Keep up the good fight
-Rob

Mika Pocket Holster

Here we are with a Tactical Texan first, a guest review from Biker.

I recently acquired a Glock 26 to replace my J-Frame Revolver as a BUG, and needed a way to carry it.

Knowing that I would carry the gun in my off-side front pocket, I knew I wouldn’t have to look far for a proper holster, as I’ve been using a Mika Round Bottom for a few years. I have tried other holsters in my pocket, but nothing seems to work as well.

The leather ones look nice, but the ones I’ve used required catching the edge of the holster on the pocket to release the gun. To say that I have had the gun present with the holster when practicing would be a fair and accurate assessment of the situation. Knowing that I required a fast presentation that that didn’t leave me with, “A holster with a gun hanging off of it;” led me straight to Robert Mika again.

I’ve also tried various non-leather holsters like the Uncle Mike’s and even a Safariland, but they either presented the gun with the holster or lost their shape to soon. I’ve been using the same Mika Holster for my J-Frame for the past three years, and it looks as good as the day I bought it, and I‘ve used it almost daily. I managed to learn about Mika Holsters from a friend with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and his roommate, who was a Los Angeles City Officer, years ago.

Granted, neither the Glock or the J-Frame do well in the front pocket of a pair of jeans. Given that I’m partial to Cargo Shorts and Carhartt Work Pants I don’t have to worry much about that as they both have voluminous front pockets. The J-Frame snuggles in nicely, and while it creates a “bulge” it is not identifiable as a gun. It looks like a fat wallet carried in the front pocket. I once tried a Kahr PM9 with a competitor’s non-leather pocket holster, and while it never withdrew with the gun, it did “print” just like a gun in my front pocket. In fact I was made by a Secretary that way one day. Last year, with the J-Frame in it’s respective Mika Holster I had a friend over for a BBQ. This friend is a fellow LEO that I work with, and he “knew” I was armed. He told me, “I know you have something in your pocket, but I don’t know what it is.”

I then gave him the holster and an unloaded gun to carry around the backyard, as I continued to BBQ. When I got my holster back he made me promise to give him Mr. Mika’s phone number, as he was very satisfied with how the holster concealed the gun and allowed for a rapid presentation. His wife even commented that, “It looks like you have your fat wallet in your front pocket after working all that overtime.”

The Mika is sturdy enough that your gun doesn’t look like a gun in your pocket. The rubber “sticky” band around the holster does a lot to not only keep the holster in the pocket but also provides the holster with enough rigidity to allow you to reholster the gun after drawing it, as the mouth band stays open.

In comparing the two holsters, J-Frame and Glock 26/27, I immediately noticed that the cut of the holster is very different between the two at the top. The J-Frame holster is even at the top. The Glock Holster is cut to coincide with the slide, and thus protrudes higher. This adds a sort of, for lack of a better description, “wing” to the holster. This cut also keeps the Rear Sight from snagging on your pocket. Both guns present very quickly, as Mr. Mika designed them to. They both allow you to get a good grip on your handgun while appearing that you just have your hand in your pocket.

Lots of times we may get that certain feeling that, “something isn’t right” and want a gun in our hand, but political or legal implications preclude us from walking around with a gun in our hand. This is where the Mika Pocket Holster shines, in my opinion. You can have your hand in your pocket, which is generally perceived as a “non-threatening” gesture, while still being ready to deal with danger. In talking with Mr. Mika I learned that his intention was to design a holster that “Gives up the gun quickly” while minimizing the tell-tale printing that is usually associated with pocket holsters. I have found that his holsters succeed in that respect.

The Mika Pocket Holster is not without it’s drawbacks. It was not designed to anchor the gun in place in the pocket when one is sitting on the couch. Like loose pocket change, if you are sitting on the couch prepare for your gun to work it’s way out of the holster just like the $0.53 you left there the last time you sat on the couch. The Mika Pocket Holster does however anchor the gun in place when you are up and about walking or sitting in a normal chair or café bench. With both guns I have found that the grip is in the same place all the time when my hand knifes into my pocket to either draw or make ready to draw if I need to.

The Glock 26/27 is on the verge of being what I consider to be too big to pocket carry. Being that the clothes I wear have such large pockets, it’s a doable proposition for me. Also, I don’t wear skin tight anything if I can help it. The revolver, given it’s curves and natural lines tends to draw easier and conceal better in the pocket, but the Glock, in it’s respective holster, doesn’t look like a gun in my pocket either. It just looks like I worked more overtime.

When someone ask me to recommend a holster I have a short list of makers that I have personally used that I don’t hesitate to recommend. Robert Mika is the only pocket holster I recommend, and for what I consider a very good reason. They can be had in a variety of colors, but black goes with everything.

Take care and stay safe,

Biker